Friday, May 30, 2008

MI Graduation Ceremony

Just two weeks ago, the Medieval Institute held its annual ceremony to honor graduating students from undergraduate through Ph.D. levels.  We have faculty in academic robes processing into the faux-medieval Alumni Hall Chapel, followed by a rank-by-rank initiation into the scholarly community of medievalists.  The baccalaureate students kneel and profess academic fealty while the master's grads also swear to use their teaching skills only for good purposes.  Ph.D. grads shed their master's robes and are re-vested with doctoral gowns.  The whole ceremony is conducted in Latin, led by Tom Noble, the Institute's director, as the main officiant, and assisted by other faculty in the roles of praelector, chaplain, beadle, and proctor.  The highlight is what we refer to as the "head-bonking."  Graduates are tapped on the head with a Gospel book three times and wished the "fortitude of David, the wisdom of Solomon, and the charity of Mary."  The first-time participants (whether students or faculty) sometimes assume that hoakiness will trump pomp and circumstance, but in fact, it seems to work in the other direction.  Proud parents are not the only ones to get teary-eyed as we move through the solemnities, and ultimately adjourn in the courtyard for punch and cookies.  The faculty/staff newspaper covered the event this year and published a story and picture at:

Thursday, May 29, 2008

It's Almost Fall Already

I've been updating the Medieval Institute's web site with information about our fall calendar.  Go to or  to see what's new.  September 18, 23, and 25 are the dates of our annual Conway Lectures. This year's speaker is Jonathan Riley-Smith.  October 8-10 will bring the SIEPM (Société Internationale pour l'Étude de la Philosophie Médiévale) colloquium on "Philosophy and Theology in the Studia of the Religious Orders and at the Papal Court." Shortly, I'll have more details on the SIEPM conference available on our web site, so anyone who is planning to attend can get some hints about travel and local accommodations.  The MI's Kent Emery, together with Bill Courtenay at Wisconsin (Madison), have come up with a very full 3 days of programming.

Thanks to the various folks who have sent good wishes on the launch of this blog.  Your encouragement is greatly appreciated.  I'm also delighted to note that time spent at Notre Dame is being recalled with such pleasure by our visitors.  Don't be shy about posting comments on the blog site, you're very welcome to join/start a conversation.  And as radio host and raconteur Garrison Keillor says, "stay well, do good work, and keep in touch."

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Summer People

We're creeping into summer here in South Bend, so that means nights in the 40s and days that totter into the 70s. Right now, we're midway between the end of spring semester and the beginning of summer classes. A lot of the students are either off for summer research projects (like many of our faculty) or getting in some recreation time before a summer of paleography with Frank Mantello or a return to the pleasures of planning or finishing a dissertation. 

Shortly, our SIEPM fellow, Sander de Boer, a philosophy graduate student from Radboud University, Nijmegen (Netherlands), will be finishing his 3-month visit with us and returning home. We're still enjoying the company of our 2007-08 Mellon Fellow, Cristina Maria Cervone, asst. prof. of English at Villanova, although she will be moving back to Philadelphia in mid-summer. Susan Dudash, from Fordham's Dept. of French, will be in town this week to secure housing for her 2008-09 Mellon year with us and returning later in summer to begin her year in residence. John Alexander, a returning visitor who clearly can't get enough of the MI, will appear in June to work in our Ambrosiana microfilm collection. John is an architectural historian at the University of Texas, San Antonio.  Owen Phelan, ND History Ph.D., now at Mount Saint Mary's University and Seminary in Maryland, will be returning to his old stomping grounds for a research visit.

Our local visiting scholars, Aaron Canty (Saint Xavier U.), Warren Lewis (Martin U. emeritus), and Bobby Meyer-Lee (Goshen College) will be making guest appearances in the reading room periodically this summer as well.

One of the best parts of my job is meeting visitors like these and introducing them to South Bend and Notre Dame.  Welcome back to one and all!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Welcome to the Notre Dame Medieval Institute blog!

This blog is an experiment in communication and community. Hundreds (thousands?) of students, faculty, and scholars across the world have some connection to the Medieval Institute (MI) at the University of Notre Dame. Maintaining a connection with our alumni, former faculty, and research visitors is the practical goal of this blog.  I would like to offer an opportunity for ongoing conversation to those individuals who have studied, worked, and visited the MI over the years. I also hope to keep you informed about our activities and people.  I invite you to join the conversation and visit our web site at: